Always Be Learning
Sheetal Jaitly, CEO and Founder of TribalScale, interviewed by Alyssa Berbecaru, Marketing Coordinator at TribalScale
How have the last few years inspired you?
When we started this organization in November 2015, we came out of the gate as a tech powerhouse in Canada. We grew rapidly to 300 people across seven different cities over the world and had revenue that surpassed 90 million dollars in our first four years of existence, but sometimes a lot of revenue can mask imperfections.
We hit a rough patch, but we were still certain of our product market fit. It was clear that there was a real need in the market for an organization like TribalScale, and there still is. We had to ask ourselves “What are we good at?” and also “What are we not good at?” to find out how we could operationally structure ourselves to be better.
From my own experience, it’s a lot harder to restructure and rebuild a company than it is to start fresh all over again. But that wasn’t an option for us and we knew we could fix the problems that we had in front of us. The analogy I always use is that our Tribe was staring at a mountain and we had to figure out how to move it rock by rock. And we did just that.
I went through a lot of self reflection during this time and learned a lot about myself, including what I’m good at and where I need to improve.
We’re going to right the future, but that all starts with learning.
I want to be the best CEO I can be not only for our mission of righting the future and being the best in digital, but most importantly for our Tribe. It’s okay to fail fast, but I really want our Tribe to know they have a leader who has the humility to keep learning and getting better.
Where does your “Always Be Learning” mindset stem from?
When I was a sales guy in my younger age, I went through the dot com boom and then the dot com bust. And in the dot com bust I was unemployed, I didn’t really know what to do with my life, I faced a lot of challenges and ultimately really struggled with my mental health. I think in a pinnacle moment like that in life, especially at an early age in your twenties, a lot of people will feel a lot of uncertainty and stress.
Luckily I had a mentor who pointed out that I had a knack for sales and encouraged me to pursue it further. It was this push that led me into the copier industry which is really well known for its onboarding training programs. If you can sell a box that prints paper, better than another person who has a box that prints paper, then you’ve really mastered your craft. It felt like I was in a boiler room with other supercharged sales individuals, who I learned a lot from and who shared the same competitive spirit I had.
It was such an immersive experience and it really instilled in me that “Always Be Learning” mindset. That training taught me intuitively about the things I should and shouldn’t be doing in sales. It also brought process and cadence to what I do, teaching me the right way to formalize my sales craft. When it comes to business development, learning is ongoing so I’m always reading or watching sales training content.
Experience sharing is a great learning opportunity as well. Since then I’ve become part of a founder forum that I sit and meet with regularly to hear about the challenges they’re facing and how they’re solving them. I also have an incredible network that I leverage and constantly reach out to for advice and mentorship.
Why did you apply to the Harvard program?
I definitely started to see a learning gap again. I’ve tried out online courses over the years and realized that it’s not for me. My learning style is different, it’s tough for me to just sit there at a computer screen, I want a learning experience that allows me to feed off the energy of others.
It was actually my cousin that encouraged me to take a look at the Owner/President Management Program at Harvard Business School. I did a lot of research on this program and thought it was a great fit for me. There’s certain criteria you have to meet, but essentially it’s made for CEOs who are substantial owners of their businesses. I knew it would be the immersive learning experience I’ve been looking for so I applied.
As a two year program, it’s definitely a major time commitment. You can imagine unplugging from your company when you’re on campus, making sure it could run on autopilot is scary for any CEO or founder. But I have all faith in the team here at TribalScale and we’re set up to be able to do that. So I accepted my offer and joined the program.
Tell us more about the Harvard program
I’ve already started on this journey with Harvard Business School. I’ve started the online learning components and there will be three in-person units on campus in Cambridge, which is where I currently am. So far it’s been awesome, I’m pushing myself to accomplish as much work as possible every day and I’m not wasting a single minute.
Our cohort is the biggest they’ve ever had with 170 people, so it’s super refreshing to be surrounded by all these other individuals with the same mindset. On top of that, there’s a world-renowned faculty here who I can consult with on business problems and challenges which is a powerful resource. TribalScale is probably one of the smaller businesses being represented here so I feel like I have a lot to learn and I’m excited to grab this program by the horns.
I’m not doing this just to have Harvard on my resume, it’s not about becoming more hireable. Truthfully I don’t feel I ever want to update my resume. This is about making TribalScale the best company it can be and pushing myself to new limits.
The feedback and reactions from my network has been overwhelmingly positive, other founders are inspired to find ways they can continue learning. I’ve had a bunch of people reach out and ask me to share my experience throughout the program, so I’ll definitely continue to blog about my experience through this program for the next couple of years!
My mantra is “Always Be Learning” and now my goal is to be proactive and to eliminate my failures through learning
Alyssa is our Marketing/Operations Coordinator here at TribalScale. Her work is focused on streamlining marketing processes and activities, content creation and customer experience. Outside of work you can find her curled up with a good book or playing with her dog.
TribalScale is a global innovation firm that helps enterprises adapt and thrive in the digital era. We transform teams and processes, build best-in-class digital products, and create disruptive startups. Learn more about us on our website. Connect with us on Twitter, LinkedIn & Facebook!